Riddhi Javali initiative Project Repeat, a non-profit organization, aims to provide sustainable and eco-friendly options for menstrual hygiene to government school girls

What prompted you to come up with Project Repeat?

Poor menstrual hygiene leads to multiple health complications, particularly among school girls in rural areas. It is also one of the key factors behind adolescents dropping out of school. Once we identified the problem, we decided to work towards a solution, and this initiative is a step in that direction. We started Project Repeat in 2020.

Menstruation is generally not discussed openly. So how did you do it?

Menstrual hygiene doesn't really figure as a point of discussion, especially in villages. Moreover, menstrual hygiene carries stigma in our society. But it is not so in my family. Maybe that inspired and helped me start this organisation. Girls in rural areas are initially reluctant to talk about menstrual hygiene. But gradually I'm able to talk to them and create awareness about that. In fact, they are actively joining Project Repeat.

What do you think are the qualities of a good leader?

Creating an open line of communication with your team members. I hear them out and in some cases I take their opinion too. Good communication skills and effective team work make your work better.

What are your hobbies?

I have numerous hobbies that they consume all my free time. I love to cook, play badminton, tell stories, and sometimes I love to write poems and articles too. Usually, I love to focus on stuff other than studies. This allows me to manage both my studies and my organisation.

What are your future plans and aspirations?

My focus is simple-for periods to be spoken about openly by all instead of it being a taboo in our society. Project Repeat is now present only in Karnataka. My biggest goal is to spread awareness on menstrual hygiene throughout India.

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"A Teenage Soul through Ebb and Flow", is a collection of poems by Nehal Sanghai

You've just published "A Teenage Soul through Ebb and Flow, a collection of poems. What prompted it? What do you want your readers to take away from this?

Publishing a book was initially a wild imagination or a dream for me. I always wrote poetry because it served as an emotional outlet during any overwhelming situation. These poems allowed me to express my thoughts and emotions and reflect on experiences in that particular moment and were written with the idea that no on was ever going to actually read them. The fact that my friends or anyone I ever read a poem to connected with the incident / emotion I was trying to express was the first time I thought about sharing what I had written with the world.

My book represents the vulnerability and honesty with which one savours any beautiful or formative moment / emotion. It's a direct window into my soul but my hope for this book as a debut author is that whoever reads this book is able to find a piece of themselves in my words. Whether it's a stranger or a close friend, a 13-year-old or a 30-year-old, I hope they are able to find some aspect of their life in my poems because at the crux of our being, our souls  go through the same ebbs and flows at many different levels and fronts.

You have been writing poems since eight. How did that journey begin?

I don't really recall the exact moment when I started writing poetry, but it's the journey I would like to emphasize more on. It started with me reading poems in my school magazine when my attempt to writing in Class III was limited to rhyming 'cat, mat and bat. Gradually I developed admiration for poems in both English and Hindi. I became more of an avid reader than a writer of poems, and slowly after reading poems for about three to four years, I started writing again. I wrote in both Hindi and English, and two of my Hindi poems were published in a newspaper when I was in Class VII.

Over time with a stronger grip on the languages and enhanced ability to articulate my thoughts, I started writing again.

Also, shifting from Kolkata to Mumbai was a big transition in my life. That , and the lockdown were two milestones when I started writing very frequently.

How does writing poetry help you?

Poetry is a form of catharsis for me. It's an emotional outlet and is a way to capture a moment or a fleeting emotion I which cannot be captured through pictures and videos. It's quite funny how my brain works because during any overwhelming situation, instead of looking for a solution, my brain starts tying words into rhymes. This way, my 'emotional' side is able to rant all the thoughts out and then the 'rational' side comes into play and finds a solution. So by the time I finish a poem in 10-15 minutes, I've poured my thoughts out and also found a solution in the same poem.

With your involvement in community and volunteer work, and fund-raisers, it is clear you are socially responsive to issues. What prompted this, and has this changed you?

I've grown up in a family where I can proudly say that the values and ethics which have been inculcated are an integral part of me. I've always seen them give back to society in several different and unspoken ways. When I used to volunteer as a student-teacher, I realized that many times not only was I teaching the children, but they were teaching me various things. And this realization filled my heart because since then I have always followed the belief that no one knows everything but everyone knows something, and hence everyone has a unique way of value creation in society.

How do you manage time between your interests / concerns and academics?

It's never been difficult for me to actually manage time per say. We all have 24 hours and just knowing how to priorities and allocate it does the trick. My hobbies and creative pursuits are as important to me as academics, and I have always continued them parallel to my studies. The only difference is that sometimes I allocate more time to my academics and sometimes more to my hobbies and social life, and that's how I try to maintain a balance because both help me grow in different ways.

What are your aspirations?

I have been inclined towards finance, business, and economics since I've watched many people around me pursue these, and I believe I have a good aptitude for them. But I still look forward to exploring different subjects in the future. My dream would be to actually make a positive impact in whichever field I choose to pursue. I always try to create an environment of community, mutual upliftment, and positivity, and this is something I will continue doing regardless of where I go.

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Ayush Singh founder of Antern, a EdTech and Al Company

What drew you to data science?

It all began when I started exploring various fields of science. I was an average student in school, and wanted to do something different. I started exploring different activities such as skating, playing the guitar, etc., but I was not enjoying any of those. I stumbled upon the world of programming, and got very interested and excited. Once I started learning. I wanted to earn money from it, and hence set my goal to become a data scientist. I made my roadmap with the help of various people on YouTube, and eventually explored more about web development, Android development, data science, etc. One of the major reasons why this field attracted me was because I was interested in mathematics. I began focussing more on linear algebra, calculus, and discrete mathematics with the help of an online learning platform. Then I began working on machine learning and its statistical model. Very few students from my class (Grade IX) had opted for this field, so I took it up as a challenge to become an inspiration for many.

Tell us about your company Antern and how it works.

Antern is a start-up that we, a group of teens, have built. We create courses on job-ready skills such as machine learning and computer science for a very low fee. We prepare people to have confidence when they step into their job. We do this by teaching them the basics and practicals of the subject they have opted for. We also give them projects and assignments to work on and test their knowledge frequently.

How do you convince your audience to trust you since you're this young?

We are currently opening scholarships to bring in more clients. We devote time and effort to make them job-ready. We have started focussing on college students. We will boost their performance, and our brand will be promoted by word of mouth.

What are your thoughts on internships?

I'm a data science intern at Artifact, and I think it is one of the best internships I have ever done because it provides me great learning opportunities. I work under a person who has already done their Masters and has many years of experience working in MNCs. I don't ask my mentor what to do and what not to do, and I try to figure it out myself in the best way that I can, and in the end, I ask him to give me suggestions. If I am stuck, he guides me by asking me to try out different possibilities.

What kind of content do you create on YouTube?

Newera is an initiative wherein I provide in-depth content for free. I work on foundation skills by providing them with information and education on advanced topics.

How do you manage school and work? What are your hobbies?

Going to school is very important for holistic growth as it teaches you discipline and to make friends. When I go to school I learn a lot as well as refresh my knowledge. I am currently in Class IX and I have already completed my syllabus for Maths and Physics, and of course, my favourite subject. History, My hobbies are reading, including books written by entrepreneurs, listening to podcasts, and also, investing time on myself, and having fun as well.

What are your future plans?

My plan for Antem is to expand my audience and to help people more. I want to build a product that will make a difference in today's advancing tech world, using recent technology such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. We will develop Artificial Intelligence products that we are working on as well. We are aiming at taking better business decisions using Artificial Intelligence, and giving those to business leaders. Personally, I want to get into a good institution such as MIT, Oxford, Harvard, or IIT.

What will be that one thing that you would like to change in our society?

I want to make parents understand that every child is unique and needn't be compared with any other. No child should be forced into taking up hobbies and activities they don't enjoy. Give them a chance to explore, and they will do wonders with their life.

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Vijay Prakash founder of the non-profit Global Environment Conservative Society

What prompted you to set up GECS?

GECS was founded in 2020 during the pandemic. The idea was to create awareness about the several current environmental threats. Apart from this, we have completed several projects that has strengthened our foundation. We are attempting to make changes that are crucial for the survival of humankind. We also collaborate with various organisations that share our ideology.

What do you focus on?

As of now, we are researching on climate change and carbon emission. Our researchers are put up all over the world. Apart from basic research, our organisation is open to new ideas and projects related to current environmental threats. We also conduct webinars and events to develop new strategies.

What prompted you to research particularly on climate change? Which organisations have you partnered with?

Climate change is a topic that has fascinated me from my childhood. I have always wanted to discover solutions related to environmental issues in the world. This kindled my interest regarding climate change. Some leading global organisations gave us a helping hand in finding better solutions by supporting or partnering with us. These include MUN Impact, Youth International Conclave, Greener is Cleaner, INTSOC Foundation, etc. These organisations help us in making the project or any initiative successful.

How did your internship shape your skills?

Internships have played a prominent role in my life. I began my internship before starting my organisation. That is where my pursuit of social entrepreneurship or volunteering began. It helped me discover myself. I volunteered for organisations to pursue and enhance my skills. This gave me great exposure to improve skills needed for a social entrepreneur. Even after commencing my organisation, I continue to nourish my skills with internships that are meaningful to me.

What were the challenges you faced with your start-up?

Since I'm a high schooler, time management is generally between school and the organisation. Initially, I found it difficult to manage time. But luckily, online classes gave me the support to adjust to my studies. Another challenge was that since my team members were diverse, it was quite difficult to fix a convenient time for some webinars and events. These were the two primary challenges I faced and solved with my start-up.

As a budding activist and a young entrepreneur, what are your aspirations?

Being a social activist I can impact people in various ways where they get adequate knowledge to understand and fight against the cause. Like various environmentalists. I want to make Earth a better place for humans and other species living here. This was one of the reasons to choose entrepreneurship as my vocation. Some of the major aims include sustainability, climate change, and a few other hazardous issues such as carbon emissions This made me realise who I am and identify my concerns about environmental issues

What are your hobbies and interests?

I love to spend a lot of time in yoga. This is something that keeps me calm Apart from meditation. I like swimming and horse riding as well

What is the one thing you want to change in society?

I want an impact where there are no environmental issues and also change the view of people regarding pollutants that are dangerous to the environment. I hope I bring in a change that is reasonable and impactful for the upcoming generations. I wish people abide by the sustainability goals and follow the same.

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Gavi Kothari 16-years-old co-founder of Tech Help for All

What does Tech Help for All do, and what is its vision?

My friend and I set up Tech Help for All with an aim of removing technology illiteracy from the world. When we both looked at the impact of the pandemic and how people were struggling with basic technology and apps used on a day-to-day basis, we knew we had to do something about it. We started creating tutorial videos for basic apps and uploaded the videos on YouTube. Eventually, a few NGOS contacted us seeking our help to expand their reach using social media platforms and by creating websites. This made us think, and we came up with this idea of a start-up that would help NGOs and companies establish websites, social media pages, fundraisers, etc.

How did your start-up help the NGOs?

Due to the pandemic everything from education to jobs and businesses became digital. We asked the NGOs to bring together children without access to the latest technology and students from less privileged backgrounds, and worked towards educating them about the World Wide Web. A lot of people and organisations started recognising these NGOs for their initiative and started funding them.

What is your role as the Head of Technology in GlobalUplift?

GlobeUplift is a civic and social organisation that conducts several workshops on social media platforms. They approached us when they discovered we were helping out various NGOs. They needed help with creating a website, and eventually gave me a position in their non-profit. As the Head of Technology, I help them maintain their website and also create and edit videos.

Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur and a tech enthusiast.

I was always interested in technology. Once my Board examinations were done, I came up with this idea to create a start-up, and with the whole pandemic situation. I used this opportunity to help those in need of education on technology. This is why all the tutorials are available for free. I contacted a lot of people and organisations initially, but didn't receive much work. Slowly but steadily, I started receiving more and more offers from a lot of NGOs and companies.

How do you manage school and your start-up?

When I completed Class XI got an opportunity to work on my start-up. But I had to put my passion on pause to focus on schooling when Class XI commenced. When I realised I was a tad ahead at school, I went back to entrepreneuring. Now that I have a team of people who volunteer at Tech Help for All, I am able to focus more on my schooling and examinations. I now work for my start-up and other volunteering activities for about six to seven hours every Sunday and focus on school for the rest of the week.

What do you think are the pros and cons of social media with respect to kids?

I don't think social media is completely bad for teenagers. If they have the right connections, then social media sites are going to be very beneficial for young people in the future.

What are your other interests? Who is your inspiration?

Apart from my studies and organization, I love making robots. I sing, and also help my brother with his dance lessons. I am very passionate about gymming. My sole inspiration has been my parents. They are very hardworking and have always been open to whatever I want to do and become.

What is the one thing you want to contribute to society?

What I want to do for society. I do with Tech Help for All. I want to help everyone have a basic knowledge about technology, and use it to bridge the generational gap between parents and teenagers. As we don't know when the pandemic is going to come to an end, I want to help less privileged children with adequate technology for them to continue their studies online.

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